The Month of May 2017: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

Food, Folklore & Fun

Hummingbird at Impatiens

The arrival of May 2017 brings with it many springtime traditions and celebrations to honor the phenomenal growth in the garden and the warming of the sun.

The glittering leaves of the rhododendrons
Balance and vibrate in the cool air;
While in the sky above them
White clouds chase each other.
—John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950)

Calendar

May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants.

May 1 is May Day. Mark the return of spring by bringing in branches of forsythia, lilacs, or other flowering shrubs from your region.

Cinco de Mayo (“The Fifth of May”) celebrates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.

This year (2017), Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 14.  Learn about the history of Mother’s Day.

Memorial Day (Monday, May 29) is a poignant reminder of the tenacity of life. We post the flag on this day; know your American flag rules.

Recipes for the Season

Try some of these recipes that feature the first crops of the season:
Asparagus Salad with Peas and Toasted Almonds
Spinach Lasagna
Rhubarb Pie

Click for more Spring Recipes using seasonal ingredients from across North America!

Gardening

See our free vegetable, herb, and fruit plant guides for tips on planting, growing, and harvesting your most popular crops.

In May, enjoy new life! Attract hummingbirds to your garden. See our list of plants that attract hummingbirds.

Celebrate a new season of flowers by planting window boxes!

This is also the time when moles start coming out. See our page on how to control moles.

Enjoy our weekly Gardening Blog for timely gardening advice!

Everyday Advice

The wedding season is almost upon us. Find out wedding weather, sunset times, folklore, and more on our Wedding Planner page.

Don’t get stressed! We’ve got Stress and Anxiety Remedies to help provide relief.

Spring cleaning? See homemade cleaning remedies and other tips to help you around the home.

Sky Watch

May’s full Moon, the Full Flower Moon, occurs on the 10th, at 5:42 P.M. (EDT). See the Full Moon for May Guide for facts and folklore.

See the May 2017 Sky Watch to find out what to look for this month and the May 2017 Sky Map to navigate the night sky from your own backyard.
 

May Folklore and Fun

A dry May and a leaking June
Make the farmer whistle a merry tune.

A snowstorm in May
Is worth a wagonload of hay.

May Zodiac Signs

Taurus: April 21 to May 20

Gemini: May 21 to June 20

May Birth Symbols

May’s birth flower is the Hawthorn or Lily-of-the-Valley.

The hawthorn means hope, while the lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness or the return of happiness. Learn more about May’s birth flowers.

May’s birthstone is the emerald. See birthstone meanings.

A few fun facts about emeralds:

  • The emerald is a green type of beryl. Its color ranges from light to rich green; the more saturated hues are more valuable, especially if pure- or blue-green. 
  • Natural emeralds are flawed, with fractures or other materials mixed in, called inclusions, which may appear as needles, columns, or cubes of minerals or bubbles of gas or liquid. Sometimes oil or resin is added to fill fractures and improve appearance.
  • Some of the best emeralds come from South American mines, although perhaps the oldest known came from Egypt. The emerald was a favorite gem of Cleopatra.
  • The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility and was thought to grant foresight, cure various diseases, soothe nerves, improve memory, and ensure loyalty.

This Month in History

May 23: What’s Your Name?

On this day in 1707, Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born. One of his major achievements was the formal introduction of a system of classifying and naming organisms according to genus and species, called binomial nomenclature. The method uses Latin words (a language commonly used by scholars in his day). For example, humans are classified as Homo sapiens. Homo, meaning “man,” is the genus and sapiens, meaning “wise,” is the species. Several species may exist within one genus, but each species only has one scientific name. Scientists today use a modified version of Linnaeus’s system. Because the same naming convention is used throughout the world, it eliminates much confusion when discussing organisms. 

Did You Know?
Carl Linnaeus originated the use of 0 (the symbol for Mars) to mean male and 1 (the symbol for Venus) to mean female.

May 26: Terrifying Twisters

On this day in 1917, tornadoes struck central Illinois, killing 101 people. Originally thought to be just one tornado that wreaked havoc along a 293-mile-long path, the outbreak was later determined to be four to eight tornadoes. One of them lasted 4 hours and followed a track 155 miles long (including the distance traveled while in the air). Mattoon and Charleston were especially hard hit by an F4 tornado (original Fujita scale). In Mattoon, almost 500 houses were destroyed.

Mattoon twister, 1917

According to newspaper reports:

  • straw was driven ½ inch deep into a tree
  • a flagpole with flag was blown four blocks and planted upright in the ground
  • books and other items were carried 50 to 70 miles away

Calendar Question

According to astronomers, what is a Julian day?

Answer: The term “Julian day” can be confusing because it has several meanings, including being a date on the Julian calendar. In astronomy, however, the Julian day (or Julian day number) is the number of days that have passed since the start of a Julian period. The Julian period is a year-numbering system developed by 16th-century French astronomer Joseph Justus Scaliger. He determined that the current Julian period began on January 1, 4713 B.C. of the Julian calendar; every 7,980 years, the count of years restarts.

For dating and comparing the timing of astronomical events and observations, John Herschel and other astronomers created a day-numbering system based on Scaliger’s Julian period. There are no months in a Julian day system; it simply counts the days, and fractions of days in decimals, since the period began. Julian day 0 occurred on January 1, 4713 B.C. The Julian day starts at noon Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time) so that nighttime astronomical events occur on one Julian day. 

A Julian date includes the fraction of a Julian day. For example, on May 1, 2016 (Gregorian calendar date), at midnight (the start of the day on a common calendar) the Julian day number was 2457509, and the Julian date was 2457509.5. On May 1, 2016, at noon, the Julian day number changed to 2457510 and the Julian date to 2457510.0.

Reader Comments

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I forgot to mention above,

I forgot to mention above, that I container garden and I will be planting most of the herbs mentioned above today 5-19-15. I also have a Dwarf Myers Lemon & Cocktail Lime tree from a Nursery that had them planted together, they said they would be fine in the pot and grow fine together, and said they would grow to the size pot they are transplanted in. I have them in an 11" pot as that is what the nursery had them in to grow. I received them both in a 7" or 8" pot. Anyway I have been finding snail trails in the dirt and my little baby Meyers lemons and Limes have been turning yellow and falling off as well. Are the fruits turning yellow and falling off because of Snails or Slugs? And if so can I plant a rosemary herb in with them? I put the Rosemary herb in it's Biodegradable pot setting in the pot with the Myer Lemon & Lime and have seen no snail trails since, I know they do not like Rosemary it is a good snail and slug repellent,what do you think will the Rosemary choke out my Dwarf trees or grow to size with them in the pot?

Is it a good idea to plant

Is it a good idea to plant Fennel with Celosia in the same container, or will I have Hornworms and other pests eating my Celosia, I seen that Fennel repels Spider mites which are a problem or can be for Celosia. I am trying to keep my Celosia pest free as well would like to keep my Mint Plants,and other herbs pest free so far I have Chocolate mint, Peppermint, Orange Mint, Mojito mint, Spearmint. I also and would like to keep pest free,Pineapple sage, Thyme, Dill, Lavender, Rosemary and other herbs. Can you tell me what herbs are good to plant with others to keep them pest free as well as with the Celosia, to keep them all pest free and growing in harmony,Please....Thank you

GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!!!

GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!!!

Help! My mint and basil are

Help! My mint and basil are being eaten alive by something I cannot see or find or seem to be able to get rid of! Basil leaves are dropping to the ground ...whole. Mint leaves have holes chewed in them til they just a skeleton! I'm desperate!

Since you mention both mint

Since you mention both mint and basil, it sounds as if you have a caterpillar. In the early evening, go outside and look for green caterpillars under the leaves or along the stems. Try a caterpillar insecticide with Bt (Dipel). See your local garden store. Spray in the evening and it should take care of them. Hope they make a comeback.

does any one know how to dry

does any one know how to dry sage for keeping or storge?

Hi there, check out our sage

Hi there, check out our sage page for growing, care, and storage tips! http://www.almanac.com/plant/sage

Tie it in bundles and hang

Tie it in bundles and hang upside down for a few days. Should be ready to use in about 3 days. Keep stems on for making smudge sticks, or strip leaves off and pack in mason jars for culinary use. Stays pungent for years in a good sealed jar.

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